Risk of developing radiation-induced cancer may be lower than thought

Washington, Dec 2 (ANI): Scientists have suggested that the risk of developing radiation-induced cancer from computed tomography (CT) may be lower than previously thought.

The researchers at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif. conducted a retrospective study using Medicare claims from 1998 through 2005 to analyze the distribution of CT scans, determine the ionizing radiation exposure associated with the exams and estimate the associated cancer risk in a population of older adults.

The data were studied in two groups, including 5,267,230 records from 1998 through 2001 and 5,555,345 records from 2002 through 2005.

For each group, the researchers analyzed the number and types of CT scans that each patient received to determine the percentage of patients exposed to "low" radiation doses of 50 millisieverts (mSv) to 100mSv and "high" radiation doses, in excess of 100mSv.

They then used standard cancer risk models to estimate the number of cancers induced.

CT scans of the head were the most common examinations, representing 25 percent of the first group and 30 percent of the second group.

However, abdominal CT delivered the greatest proportion of radiation, accounting for approximately 40 percent of the total radiation exposure in each group. Imaging of the pelvis and chest represented the second and third largest sources of radiation.

The percentage of patients exposed to radiation doses in both the low and high ranges approximately doubled from the first group to the second group. The researchers found this to be consistent with the increasing use of high-speed CT in patient diagnosis and management.

Cancer incidences related to ionizing radiation from CT were estimated to be 0.02 percent and 0.04 percent of the two groups, respectively.

The study was presented today at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA). (ANI)

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